http:// / direct-email.shtml

Emailing me directly

I have noticed that a lot of people seem to want to email me directly, looking for help with their mail servers. Apparently the fact that I have written this web site seems to make people think that I'm offering to provide free technical support to everybody in the world.

Unfortunately, this is not the case, for several reasons.

If you have a question which relates to my combined patch, my scripts, or anything else on this web site, you are invited to join my mailing list and ask your question there. I may only check the list once or twice a week, but there are several other people on the list who read it every day, and who understand this stuff well enough to answer most questions- and who are able to contact me directly if something serious comes up.

The idea is that the list is for issues where the details don't need to stay private. If you need to keep the issue private, or you need a solution "right this second", then you need to be willing to pay for that privilege.

If you do choose to use the list, please read and understand the rules and the FAQ for the list. If you break the rules, you WILL be removed from the list.

In any case, I recommend that you read Eric Raymond's web page "How to ask questions the smart way". Understanding this page will help you to understand why I can't (and honesly, don't want to) answer every single question that I receive from random people all over the Internet, and if you follow its advice, you will find that you have a much easier time on technical mailing lists.

You should also understand that, if you choose to email me, I WILL OWN the message you send, and reserve the right to do anything I like with it- including adding it to the "Gallery of Duh" section of this web site. If you don't want to see your message end up there, make sure it's an intelligent question.

And if you don't agree with this policy, DON'T EMAIL ME.

Common follow-up questions

But my server is (broken/down/overloaded/being attacked) and I don't have time to wait for a mailing list!
I emailed you a question an hour ago and you didn't answer it yet!

I need an answer, right now!

Then you need to pay me for my time.

Unless you and I have some kind of business relationship, YOUR server having issues is not MY problem. I may or may not decide to answer your questions, at a time and in a manner of my own choosing- but if you're not paying me for help, you don't have the right to dictate when, how, or even IF I help you.

But you wrote the combined patch I'm using, and I can't figure out how to make it work. You are legally responsible for making it work, and I'm going to sue you for every minute my server is down.

Show me a signed contract where I agreed to be liable for your server.

Oh, you don't have one? Go ahead, have your lawyer explain to you whether or not I'm responsible for your server. Also, go back and read the license under which the combined patch is being released. THE PARTS THAT I WROTE MYSELF are licensed under the GPL version 2, which explicitly states that I am not responsible for anything YOU DO with my code. The other parts, the patches written by other people, are licensed FROM THOSE PEOPLE, under whatever terms they dictate (normally GPL or one of the BSD licenses.) And the original qmail code itself has been placed in the public domain by its author.

Basically, unless you have a signed contract with me, you don't have any legal basis to claim that I'm responsible for anything your server does or doesn't do.

And by threatening me like this, you have guaranteed that I will never help you- not for hire, and certainly not for free.

Yes, somebody actually tried to use legal threats to force me to answer their questions. When I checked my email, I saw three messages from them with the space of three hours- one asking the question, then two hours later asking why I hadn't answered the question yet, then a third one about 45 minutes later, threatening to sue me for their server's down-time if I didn't answer them immediately.

The funny part is that I didn't see any of these messages until early the next morning. They got all bent out of shape because I was asleep at the time they sent their messages. I guess they never figured that other people live in different time zones, or may not live their lives using the same day/night schedule that they may be using themselves.

My reply to that person is the URL of this web page. If they actually decide to read the entire page (which I honestly doubt) they will see this note, where I'm explaing that their email address has been added to my server's "badmailfrom" file, and therefore I won't see any more email they may send to me.

Which is rather ironic, because their question was how to make their server not accept mail from certain email addresses, something which is covered in djb's original documentation- "man qmail-smtpd" would have explained it to them.